Brian Armstrong (businessman)

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Brian Armstrong
Armstrong in 2017
Armstrong in 2018
Born (1983-01-25) January 25, 1983 (age 41)[1]
EducationRice University (BA, MS)
Occupation(s)Chairman and CEO, Coinbase

Brian Armstrong (born January 25, 1983) is an American business executive, billionaire,[2] and investor who is CEO of cryptocurrency platform Coinbase.[1] He received media attention for his policy of keeping the workplace free of political activism.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Armstrong was born on January 25, 1983, near San Jose, California; both of his parents were engineers.[5] During his years in high school, he attended Bellarmine College Preparatory, a Catholic, all-male, private secondary school.[citation needed] Armstrong attended Rice University in Texas, and earned a dual bachelor's degree in economics and computer science in 2005, followed by a master's in computer science in 2006.[5] While at Rice, he started a business matching tutors to students, and after graduating, spent a year in Buenos Aires while working for an education company.


Brian Armstrong (center)

Armstrong's early career included working as a developer for IBM and a consultant at Deloitte. In 2010, he came across the Bitcoin white paper published under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto.[5] In 2011, he joined Airbnb as a software engineer and was exposed to payment systems in the 190 countries Airbnb operated in at the time.[6] While at Airbnb, he saw the difficulties of sending money to South America.[5] He began working weekends and nights to write code in Ruby and JavaScript to buy and store cryptocoins. In 2012, he entered the Y Combinator startup accelerator and received a $150,000 investment, which he used to fund Coinbase.[5][7]

His post on Hacker News[8] looking for a co-founder to get into the Y Combinator program later became a viral post in Hacker News. He eventually met his co-founder Fred Ehrsam on a Reddit subgroup[9] and is quoted to have done over fifty meetings to find a perfect co-founder.


In 2012, Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam co-founded Coinbase, as a way for cryptocurrency enthusiasts to trade bitcoins and other digital currencies.[10] Armstrong was its first CEO.[10] A 2018 funding round valued the company at $8.1 billion, and in December 2020, the company filed with the SEC to go public through a direct listing.[11][12][13] Following a direct listing in April 2021, Coinbase's market capitalization rose to $85B,[14] and according to Forbes, as of May 2022, Armstrong has a net worth of $2.4 billion.[15]


Armstrong appeared in the 2014 American documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin.[16]

He was featured in the 2020 nonfiction book Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street.[17]

Armstrong and Coinbase were the subject of the documentary COIN: A Founder's Story, directed by Emmy-winner Greg Kohs.[18][19]


Armstrong self-funded and founded the scientific research site ResearchHub, modeled on the GitHub code repository, as a way of making research papers available to the public.[7]


Armstrong co-founded NewLimit to increase human health span by targeting the biology of aging. NewLimit's primary research focus is epigenetic reprogramming. In May 2023, the company raised $40 million in a Series A investment round.[20]

Political views[edit]

Armstrong wrote a blog post [21] in September 2020 calling Coinbase a "Mission Focused Company", discouraging employee activism and discussion of political and social issues at work.[22][4] He offered severance packages for Coinbase employees uncomfortable with this policy;[3] as a result, sixty employees (amounting to 5% of the company) left Coinbase.[23] Prior to this, Armstrong supported the Black Lives Matter movement and tweeted when George Floyd was murdered: "I've decided to speak up. It's a shame that this even needs to be said in this day and age, but racism, police brutality, and unequal justice are unequivocally wrong, and we need to all work to eliminate them from society."[3]

In July 2023 he met with House Democrats, specifically the New Democrat Coalition, in a closed-door session that reportedly focused on digital-asset legislation. Armstrong according to Bloomberg had "led a campaign in Washington to create clearer rules around digital assets."[24]


In 2017, at age 34, Armstrong was ranked #10 on Fortune's 40 under 40 list.[25]

In 2019, Armstrong was named to Time magazine's 100 Next list.[26]

In 2021, Forbes named Armstrong #1 on its Crypto Rich List, with an estimated net worth of $6.5 billion as of February 2021.[27] He was also listed 60th on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America.[28]


In 2018, Armstrong was the first cryptocurrency executive to sign the Giving Pledge, when he pledged to give away the bulk of his wealth to philanthropic causes.[10] He also set up a philanthropic effort called, to allow people to make public or anonymous donations to help others living in poverty.[10]


  1. ^ a b "Brian Armstrong". AZ Coin News. November 24, 2019. Archived from the original on June 20, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  2. ^ "Forbes profile: Brian Armstrong". Forbes. Retrieved 1 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b c "Coinbase CEO discourages politics at work, offers generous severance to employees who want to quit". CNBC. September 30, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Taking a Stand Against Social Stances". The New York Times. September 30, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Bitcoin's Guardian Angel: Inside Coinbase Billionaire Brian Armstrong's Plan To Make Crypto Safe For All". Forbes. February 19, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong to talk the future of cryptocurrency at Disrupt SF". TechCrunch. May 16, 2018. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  7. ^ a b Kruppa, Miles (March 5, 2021). "Coinbase founder rides crypto boom to Nasdaq listing". Financial Times. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  8. ^ "Looking for Co-Founder". Hacker News. May 16, 2012.
  9. ^ "Coinbase Story". May 16, 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d "Newly Minted Billionaire Coinbase CEO Is Already Tired of His Wealth". Observer. December 26, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  11. ^ "Cryptocurrency start-up Coinbase valued at $8 billion despite bitcoin's plunge". CNBC. October 30, 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  12. ^ "Bitcoin's Guardian Angel: Inside Coinbase Billionaire Brian Armstrong's Plan To Make Crypto Safe For All. In 2021 Coinbase is building a IT support center in India so they can make customer service even worse than it currently is". Forbes. February 19, 2020. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  13. ^ "Coinbase reveals direct listing application with SEC". The Economic Times. February 25, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  14. ^ Paul Vigna (14 April 2021). "Coinbase Fetches $85 Billion Valuation in Market Debut". The Wall Street Journal.
  15. ^ "Forbes Profile". Forbes. Archived from the original on 13 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Bitcoin documentary must watch, You Should Know About It". Charlotte Stories. September 10, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  17. ^ Roberts, Jeff (December 15, 2020). Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street. Harvard Business Review Press. p. 188.
  18. ^ "TA new doc about the first crypto company to IPO". Axios. October 7, 2022. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  19. ^ "Filmmaker seeks to capture the soul". Notre Dame Magazine. April 1, 2016. Retrieved October 25, 2022.
  20. ^ "How the science behind reverse-aging could theoretically work, as Coinbase founder raises $40 million in a bid to make it reality". Fortune. May 19, 2023. Retrieved June 6, 2023.
  21. ^ "Coinbase Is A Mission Focused Company".
  22. ^ "Can a company really be 'apolitical' in 2020?". Fast Company. October 9, 2020. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  23. ^ "60 Employees Leave Coinbase Over CEO's Pledge To Be Apolitical". Forbes.
  24. ^ Kendall, Tyler (17 July 2023). "Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Set to Meet With House Democrats". bloomberglaw. Retrieved 9 November 2023.
  25. ^ "40 Under 40". Fortune. 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  26. ^ "Brian Armstrong". Time. 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  27. ^ "Brian Armstrong". Forbes. Retrieved March 11, 2021.
  28. ^ "Forbes 400 list". Forbes. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022.

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